Tag Archives: Burslem

The Months Tick by

Sometimes titles for blog posts just pop into my head. This was one of them. It was something that Dad would say – that things ‘ticked by’.

Here we are in a new year, and already into the last week of January 2021. Looking at these terracotta panels created back around 1865 – the months and the years have indeed ticked by.

Having taken so long to bring this body of work to completion, it does make me think about how each moment that passes is never repeated quite the same. Something in context has always changed.

Here the woman is holding the infant New Year in her arms as he learns to stand on his own feet, ready to run headlong into the year. It’s a fleeting moment especially when you see how he fast he grows into February later in this post.

Looking at these images on top of the Wedgwood Institute, the months and the zodiac signs are neatly paired up in alcoves. Back when I was planning my work out, I gave some thought to drawing each alcove in turn, but decided the repetition was too much for me!

Then I thought I could draw a single alcove template and scan the months and zodiac signs on to the template. However, that involved a lot of learning on Photoshop and at that point I glazed over and decided against the idea!

A mock up of the template of February/Pisces

The other thing that I couldn’t resolve was that the start of the months and zodiacs overlapped and that if I drew them together, there would always be someone looking at them saying I’m born in February but I’m not a Pisces!

It was a useful process though as it helped me decide to draw them all individually and here we are on with February.

When I signed them, I thought I had finished… so I put them away for what turned out to be a year. However, when I next saw them I immediately wanted to add more depth by setting them in a frame of rich red earth colours to hold them in place.

So January ticks by into February, the young year is now out there hard at work tilling the earth. Here’s a look ahead into March where he is planting the ground.

All the original paintings are available to buy from Barewall Gallery in Burslem and there are several full sets of signed cards available in my Etsy shop.

You can also see the full set of artwork on my website. If you see anything that is not yet for sale online – please drop me a line ronniecruwys@drawingthestreet.co.uk Things are selling a bit faster than I anticipated! 🙂

Here are the rest of the months – when they were all lined up ready for mounting and sending off to Barewall Gallery in Burslem.

This has been a fab project – so pleased to have brought it to completion and returned it back home to Burslem before being shipped far and wide.

Thanks for reading and happy Burns Night!

Ronnie 🙂

Aquarius of Burslem

Aquarius of Burslem can be found high up on the Wedgwood Institute on Queen Street, Burslem in the first alcove dedicated to the month of January. This is the month that shows a woman holding her infant – the symbolic infant new year with hand held high, gazing into the future.

It was 2014 that I took these photos – getting as much detail as I could so that I could draw them one day. It’s only taken me seven years but I am so happy to say that I have done it! I have drawn all the Wedgwood signs of the zodiac and the months and I am really excited to let you know that Barewall Burslem will be selling the original artwork. It felt fitting that the original artwork go back to the Mother Town and hopefully find homes with people who connect with and love this place.

It was back last September that I mentioned this body of work so let’s have a little refresher as to what I did for all my arty pals that read here.

Back in Staffordshire, I chose to work on some really weighty watercolour paper using natural pigments and gum arabic – making my own watercolour paint as I already have a selection of rich earth and mineral pigments.

Pencil sketched images from the Wedgwood roundels and building up using thin layers of pigment washes. The first one here is in English Yellow Ochre, then various red ochres added to build up the mosaic texture.

This is the point where I left them and moved up north.

The blues and greens of mineral pigment – the semi-precious stones crushed up to make colour is so fresh and bright – it felt fitting to use these to represent this mosaic artist’s beautiful work from back sometime around 1865.

I masked out the earlier work to frame the roundel in a deep rich red brick colour, adding texture by stippling on a darker red.

Here’s the full set of the astrological symbols. I added highlights of 23 carat shell gold to the mosaics to catch small sparkles of light.

These are all mounted and ready to fit a standard 12 inch square frame.

Each original artwork will shortly be on sale at £195 each from Barewall. If you are interested in one, please email me at ronnie.cruwys@btinternet.com or kindly get in touch with Amanda at Barewall Gallery, Burslem.

I have also stocked my Etsy shop with some packs of greetings cards which you can buy here.

Thanks for reading and will post more on the months very soon!

Ronnie 🙂

I’ve Started so I’ll Finish

Looking up at the Wedgwood Institute, Burslem

Have you ever looked up at a building and marvelled at the creativity that has gone into it? Have you thought about the artists and makers and the hours of planning and co-ordination spent to pull something like the Wedgwood Institute together? This building must have been a labour of love for so many.

‘November’ high up on the Wedgwood Institute, Burslem

Whilst I was living in Staffordshire, I wanted to draw every last detail of this building simply to acknowledge it was there. I began with the main entrance which you can see in full here.

Detail of ‘Wedgwood Institute Door’, showing the stone carving, brick and tilework

I had great plans to draw so much more of this building but life had other plans for me. Just as I had got the next phase of artwork underway, we got news of the move to Scotland and so things went on hold.

Sign of Pisces

However, I had already begun drawing the months of the year and the zodiac symbols in the arches above and so at some point I knew I would finish them – I don’t like leaving a body of work unfinished. Besides, I had begun work on some beautiful heavy watercolour paper (Saunders Waterford 640gsm Not) which is a thick as carboard with a rippling texture and a wonderful surface to paint/draw on.

I pencilled in the outline using a compass to contain the astrological symbols.

I had taken photographs of the existing zodiac signs but some were under cover and some had areas of mosaic missing. I looked up old record photos and in places where details were hazy, I used creative licence and painted them to compliment the rest of the images.

The mosaic symbols were made in bright blues, greens and whites against a deep red background. I used ground up mineral pigments of azurite, malachite and the red and yellow ochre earth pigments that I use to paint icons to capture the life, depth and movement of these rich symbols.

Malachite being broken down to small chunks using a pestle and mortar.
Malachite being ground to a fine pigment
Pisces – the fish

This was as far as I got with the zodiac symbols before I began to pack up to move north. I had made some progress into painting the images of the months – about three or four of them… but enough to have me hooked to want to complete, come what may.

Now, almost four years since I made the first sketches of these images, I’m so happy that I can say I have completed this part and will be sharing what I’ve done to complete them over the next few blog posts.

Thanks for reading!

Ronnie 🙂

Recharging the Batteries

Church Stretton jan 2017 a.jpg
Church Stretton, Shropshire

Plans for January to be a time of taking stock of where I’m going and all that have gone out the window! Instead I’m treating it as a time to recharge the batteries.

We went for a great leg stretch up on the Long Mynd a week into the New Year which helped me recover form some cold bug (too long spent sketching in the cold in Hanley!) when I did the above sketch in Church Stretton whilst Iain went and had a look in a bike shop.

Christmas was fab but we had to say cheerio to our much loved old girl Nina shortly after. She almost made it to 14 years.

Nina, our Chesapeake Bay retreiver, sunbathing
Nina, our Chesapeake Bay retreiver, sunbathing

It’s a quiet house without a dog  (first time in 18 years) – although noticeably cleaner!

Then last Saturday afternoon it was really lovely to meet up with some sketching enthusiasts in Middleport Potteries, as I joined the Stoke branch of Urban Sketchers sketching in and around the buildings.

Middleport Pottery sketch.jpg

pottery-molds

Canadian Pine.jpg
Met up with Paul and Mandy of The Canadian Pine Company – thanks for your hospitality!

Middleport is famous for its Burleighware, those rich deep blue and white pots – we have a jug at home which my sister bought for me – like this one:

Anne's Burleighware Jug.jpg

Thanks for reading and wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2017.

Ronnie

An iconic kind of door

 

drawing of wedgwood institute
Detail above entrance to the Wedgwood Institute

There’s many a fine building in Bonny Burslem but none with an entrance quite like the one into the Wedgwood Institute.

I recently finished the Wedgwood drawing which I began a few months ago. I picked up the pencil for this one having been influenced some time ago by a poster I bought of the entrance to the Natural History Museum, London, by Alfred Waterhouse.

poster of Natural History Museum
Entrance to the Natural History Museum

I bought and framed this poster when I was an architecure student and it’s now on the wall of our son’s flat, an architectural student, thirty+ years later! I still love the drawing and this is what made me choose to spend some time on the Wedgwood entrance with its intricate tile and terracotta details.

red and yellow ochres for brickwork and terracotta
Terracotta details in the wall of the Wedgood Institute

Terracotta tiles and masonry details next to wedgwood institute
Coat of arms on the side of the Wedgwood Institute

I’ve used traditional pigments with gum arabic on some very heavy (600 gsm) hot pressed watercolour paper. I really like the combination of the warm French and English Ochres, against the bright green malachite and azurite. I’m also hooked on using the pigment called ‘Caput Mortuum‘ – it seems to end up on quite a few of my icons!

It has been a treat to pause and spend time on a small part of a street but it only makes me want to zoom in further and pick up on the terracotta work. This is quite a rich subject which I may explore in future having been sidetacked by some of the tiles in Newcastle under Lyme.

tile details
Collage of terracotta tiles from a building in Newcastle-under-Lyme

drawing of wedgwood door
The final drawing of the Wedgwood Institute door

For more info and to order or stock prints from a small limited edition run, please have a look at my website or email me at RonnieCruwys@drawingthestreet.co.uk

Thanks for reading.

Ronnie

Palladian and Diocletian to go please?

36 to 52 Market Place Burslem,
 Market Place, Burslem

KFC on Market Place Burslem must be proud of its Palladian and Diocletian windows. The description in the listing needs an architectual dictionary to translate but these 18th century windows must have been pretty well built to have survived this far and they have fared better than the kilns which once stood behind the building.

palladian and diocletian windows
Palladian (first floor) and Diocletian (second floor) windows

 

pen ink and egg tempera wash architectural drawings
India Cottage, the New Inn (c1832) and Ideal Homes, Market Place, Burslem

drawings of Market Place Burslem
Pearl Assurance House, John Keenan, Hog Noggin and KFC

This is only a short drawing but this part of Market Street frames the northern side of Fountain Place and lies quite close to St John’s Square. It could be quite easily overlooked but there are two listed grade 2 buildings at one end – Hog Noggin and KFC.

There are some interesting old Potteries photos which show how close this street was to the factory and kiln which once stood behind.  I would love to hear any insights into the history of these buildings. Please do get in touch and I will share it on the archive blog (Drawing the Detail).

KFC Hog Noggin John Keenan and KFC
Hog Noggin and KFC both 18th century and listed grade 2

John Keenan crop
John Keenan’s office, chartered surveyor.

Thanks for reading.

Ronnie

A nasty old Square for Bears

St Johns west edit small crop
St John’s Square, Burslem

Bear-baiting, bull-baiting and cock-fighting were once popular sports in St John’s Square, Burslem, shown above, fresh off my drawing board.  Residents of perhaps one or two of these buildings would have had a prime view on a Sunday morning, when these activities were likely to happen. All banned by law in 1837, thank goodness.

 

Market Place south Jpeg smaller file
Little clues of the past remaining on the walls of Market Passage, Burslem, just around the corner.

Interesting clues of what went on remain in place and pub names though.

St Johns west edit small vale Curry.jpg

 

 

There’s a great old photo of the square which predates the arrival of the red brick building above ‘New Era’ Barbers shop, with the gable and brickwork bearing the date 1884.

St Johns west edit 1 crop 2b

It looks like a thatched cottage stood here before this building

Thanks to the sharing of local history and photographs by Burlem enthusiasts in Facebook groups ‘Middleport Memories‘ and ‘Our Burslem‘, this intriguing photo from a book ‘Images of England Burslem, shows what still remains.

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From the book ‘Images of England – Burslem’ (see link above

I love discovering little bits of our history and thank you Geoff Barnett, for introducing me to the world of Burslem. Before I sign off, I was chatting about this drawing to Terry Hunt in Jollies Art Shop, Newcastle-under-Lyme. It turns out he was once the landlord of the Duke William!

So this post is for Geoff and for Terry.

St Johns west edit small Duke William

And here’s Terry outside his shop on Liverpool Road. Good to see that my drawings have got a bit more colourful over the last couple of years.

Jollies Terry Hunt
Terry, former landlord of ‘Duke William‘, outside Jollies Art shop, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Thanks for reading!

Ronnie

 

Lowry, Berry and Brammeld

cafe Burslem David Brammeld1.jpg
David Brammeld’s painting of Market Place, Burslem  

There’s something great going on this weekend for anyone living in and around the Potteries.  Some of you may not know that Drawing the Street began in David Brammeld‘s drawing class not far from my home here in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Dave’s passion for drawing and painting the older parts of the Potteries has been a terrific example for me.

The Backs David Brammeld 1.jpg
Example from David’s series ‘The Backs’

Dave’s work has gone from strength to strength and his work has been exhibited widely including the Mall Galleries and Royal Society of British Artists to name a few. This weekend however, he is giving a painting demonstration in the Potteries Museum to mark the grand finale of the Lowry and Berry exhibition  when entrance to see the the exhibition will be free.

David Brammeld RBSA Mall Galleries 5
David Brammeld’s painting of Market Place, Burslem

I feel very lucky to attend Dave’s drawing class. He’s a dedicated teacher, patient with his students and there’s a great atmosphere as you can see here as we spring a surprise toast to one of David’s big art moments. I’ll be going to the exhibition and demo on Sunday. Hope some of you can make it too!

Thanks for reading –
Ronnie.

Brammeld celebration class.jpg
Dave and some of the drawing class students toasting his success last year. 

 

Burslem Regenerates

East end of Market Place, Burslem, south side
East end of Market Place, Burslem, south side

Just a short post this time as I am about to head off to a big family gathering. Thought you might like to see a few more drawings which I have completed and posted over on the main website www.drawingthestreet.co.uk.  I would be delighted if you would click over and have a look.

Before you head over, a few words about the Post Office on Market Place, Burslem, below. This was a project which the Burslem Regeneration Company and my former workplace, Horsley Huber Architects had a hand in reshaping together with the owner.

Although the reinstatement of the original window layout is a relatively small job in the building industry, I do have an idea of the background work that has gone on behind the scenes by all parties to make this happen, there is more than meets the eye!

That said, this building now looks so much better and you can really see the overall impact when you look at the street as a whole.

Burslem Post Office, the Leopard, Market Place
Post Office and the Leopard pub, Market Place, Burslem

Burslem Post Office before the conservation work began in June 2011
Burslem Post Office before the conservation work began in June 2011

Moving down towards the west end of Market Place, there is a narrow gap, Market Passage where there is a faded mural.

Burslem Bear Market Place
The Burslem Bear

I would never have noticed the Burslem Bear had I not drawn this! A sign of Burslem’s history…

the Burslem Bear
The Burslem Bear

Market Place, Burslem
Market Place, Burslem

That’s all for now, thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Burslem’s on the drawing board

Market Place North side small
Market Place, Burslem, North side

I have begun to draw up Market Place in Burslem. I took photographs on the most beautiful day last year and got a great welcome and a complimentary cup of coffee from the good ladies in Silver Coin Amusements, pictured below. As promised, they are on my drawing!

Silver Coin, Market Place, Burslem
Silver Coin, Market Place, Burslem

The black and white drawing above is shown so you can see work in progress. I have begun drawing the opposite side of Market Place and will add colour when both are complete.

I have also been overhauling my website -please do click on the link below to see the fledgling site.  I would welcome any feedback. Just let me know whether you can see the drawings on your computer ok – there  is so much for me to learn with all this.  I hope to get the new site and old name integrated in the next week or so. www.cargocollective.com/drawingthestreet